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Maternal employment in Scandinavia: A comparison of the after-birth employment activity of Norwegian and Swedish women


A striking characteristic of recent Western labour market trends is the rise in employment among mothers of very young children. So far, few studies have analysed the impact of public policies on employment rates of young mothers. In this study we address this issue by comparing two similar countries, Norway and Sweden, which have the same set of policies with slight variations, using data sets with similar designs. We analyse rates of re-entry into paid work after first birth for mothers in 1968–88 by means of hazard regression. One important finding is that the right to paid maternity leave with jobsecurity greatly speeds up the return to work.

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We want to thank Jan Kowalski for programming assistence and the Swedish Research Council for the Social Sciences and the Swedish Council for Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences for financial support for the Swedish study. We are grateful to John F. Ermisch, Siv Gustafsson, to two anonymous referees and to colleagues at the Demography Unit for valuable comments. Responsible editors. Siv S. Gustafsson, John F. Ermisch.

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Rönsen, M., Sundström, M. Maternal employment in Scandinavia: A comparison of the after-birth employment activity of Norwegian and Swedish women. J Popul Econ 9, 267–285 (1996).

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JEL classification

  • J22
  • J13

Key words

  • Maternity leave
  • childbirth
  • labor force participation